Adam Smith (BSc '05, MSc '09) can see his breath in the air as he makes his way out to the parking lot. He unlocks the door and slides into the seat of yet another strange car, catching his reflection in the rearview mirror as he adjusts it. If you watch closely, you might notice a stifled yawn – it's 3 a.m.
As a student, Smith pulled his share of all-nighters. In fact, he laughs at the memory of sleepless nights spent monitoring lab experiments as he worked towards his master's degree in biochemistry. If you ask him what's keeping him up now, it's not all-night parties or lab work. Instead, the 28-year old's lack of sleep comes from long nights as an Operation Red Nose (ORN) volunteer.
"I started volunteering when I was on the track team," explains Smith, who threw weight and shotput for three years before suffering a career-ending injury.
"Red Nose started as something I had to do – but now it's something I want to do."
Having returned for the 11th successive year, Smith obviously enjoys volunteering but he takes his responsibilities very seriously. Originally participating out of obligation to his team, Smith admits he's had a change in perspective and now volunteers as a way of giving back to the community.
"I've developed a greater appreciation for what it's all about," says Smith. "It's more than hanging out with friends and raising money for Pronghorns athletes. It's also about playing an active role in the community, and taking part of the shared responsibility for making that community a better place."
Although, Smith admits, the money does support a cause near and dear to his heart.
"As a student athlete, it's not easy to balance school with a tough training schedule," acknowledges Smith, who trained up to 30 hours a week and didn't have a lot of time left over for a part-time job. "I travelled to meets and competitions across Canada, and all of my expenses were covered by Pronghorns Athletics."
With those thoughts in mind, Smith returns each year to volunteer for ORN. He gives generously of his time, spending up to five nights each winter making sure that holiday partygoers and their vehicles get home safely. In addition, he's worked with groups like the Graduate Students' Association to encourage others to get involved.
"ORN is a great program and offers the best of both worlds: you and your vehicle home safely at the end of the night," says Smith. "It has become a staple of our community and demand continues to grow each year."
As he buckles his seat belt and shifts into gear, Smith knows he's going to be tired the next day, but his yawn turns into a smile when he thinks about the difference he's making.
Operation Red Nose, now in its 17th year, provides rides home to individuals in their own vehicles. There is no fee for the service, but donations are gratefully accepted. For more information or to volunteer, call 403-329-2681. If you're out on the town and need a ride, call 403-320-4155.
For a look at the full issue of the December 2010 Legend in a flipbook format, follow this link.